Archives for August 2013

9 Tips for Helping Your Kids Adjust to a New Baby

babybrotherGetting ready for a second child (or third, or more) means going back into high-gear prep mode: stocking up on baby clothes, setting up a nursery, going through all the hospital visits, etc. In all that activity, it can be surprisingly easy to overlook one of the most important parts of your life: your other children. Whether you’ve only got one other child at home or you’re juggling two or more children, it takes some real work and planning to help an older sibling adjust to a new baby. Your older child’s life will change as radically as yours will, but he won’t necessarily have the emotional tools to handle that change well. That’s where you come in. With the right guidance, you can help your child adjust to the new baby just fine. Here are some tips to remember:

Listen to their feelings (especially the complaints)

Your older child will have a lot of opinions about the baby. (A lot.) He will likely complain about your time being monopolized by the new child, the way the baby cries, and just the overall ways that life is changing. Don’t ignore these comments. Instead, let your older child vent and express himself to you. In response, talk with him honestly about what’s happening. Tell him you understand that the change is hard, that you still love him and that you know he’s still getting used to sharing his parents with a new person. If you ignore his complaints, you run the risk of teaching him to repress his feelings, which can lead to bad behavior or outbursts.

Ask for their input

Kids love choices because they present the illusion of control. (In other words, you won’t let your child choose any meal in the world for dinner, but you can let them pick between two pre-approved choices.) Carry this over when the new baby comes. Ask your child for input and “advice” when dealing with the new baby. The goal here is to help your older child feel included and like a valuable member of the family with opinions to contribute. By emphasizing his skills, you can help him feel like a team member.

Let them help out

Similarly, let your older child help with the new baby. Obviously, you can’t outsource infant care to a child, but you can let your older child participate in baths, diaper changes and other tasks that come with new-baby territory. This will give your older child a sense of pride and accomplishment; he won’t be fighting for your attention, but actively helping while he spends time with you.

Read books to your kids about the situation

Explaining the myriad of changes your household is about to go through will take some time. A great way to help this process is to read books about babies and birth with your older child. Talk about newborns, mommies and how families grow. Use these reading times as a chance to answer questions and encourage open talks about what’s happening.

Talk to them about the story of their own birth

Kids love to hear stories about themselves. When you’re preparing for a new baby, talk with your older child about what it was like when he was born. Tell him how excited you were, how much you looked forward to meeting him and how much he’s changed your life. Use that as a springboard for a discussion about how similar things will happen with the new baby. The goal is to help your child see the pattern of family growth, love and acceptance.

Set aside special time for your older child or children

It doesn’t have to be much — something small once or twice a week can work — but find room in your schedule for a special activity with your older kid. Some play time, park visits, story hour; whatever it is, make sure it’s a regular appointment. This way the older child won’t feel forgotten.

Don’t devalue your older kids

It’s inevitable that baby-related tasks, chores and medical visits will eat up a lot of your time. Don’t let this turn your older children into a lower priority, though. When you can steal a free minute without the baby — if the little one is napping or being looked after by the other parent — use that time to spend with your older child. It doesn’t have to be much, and it doesn’t have to be a major event. Something as simple as sharing a snack or talking about your day while you take a break will work just fine. It’s a way to show you’re still interested in the whole family, not just the new baby. Your older child will definitely appreciate it.

Let them become individuals

Don’t be too quick to force your older child to spend time with the baby. The older child will want to establish his own identity in contrast to the infant, which sometimes takes the shape of ignoring the baby altogether. Let this play out until the older child eventually changes his tune.

Don’t shy away from messy moments

The emotionally messy ones, that is. (You’ll already have plenty of physically messy ones with the baby.) If your older child has a total blow-up one day, let him cry it out and get rid of the bad feelings. There’s a good chance his inner turmoil has been triggered by the mass of emotions he’s feeling about the new baby. That’s totally normal, and you should encourage healthy displays and investigations of these feelings. This is going to be a big learning opportunity for everyone.

Expanding your family is a big deal, but it doesn’t have to be hard on your older children. Remember: they just want to be loved and acknowledged. Show them that they’re part of the family.

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Baby Journal

babybookThe first few years of your baby’s life are typically the most heavily documented, which is why baby journals have remained a perennial favorite for new parents. Recording each milestone along the way not only allows you to track the rate at which your child is reaching them, but also provides you with a wonderful piece of memorabilia when your child is no longer small. The world is a rapidly changing place, however, which means that the old-fashioned baby books of years gone by are no longer the only option for new parents with a penchant for journaling. Before you snag the first journal off the shelf, these are five of the things you might want to consider.

  • Ease of Use – Between midnight feedings and frequent diaper changes, early parenthood isn’t known for being rife with free time. That means that, by sheer necessity, you’ll need to choose a baby journal that’s easy for you to use and update on the fly. You’ll need to be able to make new entries or update existing ones in the little amount of time you’re able to carve out while Baby is sleeping or with the grandparents, so make sure that you choose one that doesn’t require a ton of work. An intricate journal filled with calligraphy will be a beautiful keepsake in theory, but in practice is more likely to end up abandoned as you go about the business of parenting.
  • Convenience – A large, cumbersome book makes for a great accent on your bookshelf, but may be little more than a blank book taking up space if it’s too difficult to manage. You’ll need to choose a journal that’s easy to handle and convenient to update. If you’re constantly glued to your smartphone, a digital journal that you can update on the go may be the most efficient route for you to take. Stay-at-home parents who aren’t as tech-savvy may find that a traditional journal is the best choice. The method that’s most convenient for you will depend largely upon your lifestyle, so take it into account when you’re choosing a journal.
  • Method By Which the Journal Will Be Updated – If you hate your handwriting, aren’t a confident speller or don’t like the idea of keeping a physical book around to collect stains, spills and mishaps, a digital journal could be the solution to your quandaries. Parents who aren’t so invested in technology or who like the idea of physically writing out the chronicle of their baby’s first year, however, should consider a traditional baby book.
  • Storage and Organization – In homes where space is at a premium, adding another clunky book to the shelves may not be the best idea. A digital journal that’s backed up online or on a removable storage device also isn’t prone to damage or loss in the same way that a physical journal may be. Consider where you’ll be storing this precious information and how you want to organize it while you’re choosing the journaling option for your growing family.
  • Customization Options – Artistic and creative parents may want something with more of a scrapbook feel than a clinical run-down of milestones and feeding schedules, while minimalist parents may find that they have little patience for the frills and cutesy feel of a heavily decorated baby journal. Think about the level of customization you’re looking for and how much you want to manipulate the pages. Digital and physical journals alike will all have different levels of customization ability, so think about what you’re looking for and the options available to you through the journals you’re considering.

In the end, the type of journal you choose should be a reflection of who you are as a parent and what will best fit your lifestyle. The last thing you’ll want is a baby book with the first few pages filled out and the rest left blank, or a book that doesn’t accurately portray your baby’s new life. Make sure that you choose wisely, as you also won’t want to take time out of your busy schedule as a new parent to transfer information into a new journal if your first choice proves to be less than efficient.

5 Signs Your Newborn is Overstimulated

cryingnewbornBringing a brand new baby home from the hospital is definitely a learning experience, especially if you’re a first-time parent. Learning to read the cues of a newborn isn’t always easy, and it’s a skill that usually comes with practice. Because babies come into the world with a nervous system that’s not yet mature, they’re not able to regulate the way they perceive outside stimuli in the same way as older children and adults. In the first three months of life, it’s easy for an infant to become overstimulated, which can cause them to become distressed and to have a difficult time calming down. Keeping your newborn happy is a delicate balancing act between providing her with the stimulation she needs to develop and protecting her from an abundance of stimulation, which will more than likely leave her tearful or even inconsolable. Recognizing the signs of over-stimulation can help to clear up some of the mysteries behind normal baby behavior, making it easier for your new family to fall into a calm and productive routine.

  • Her Breathing Changes – Just as your breathing speeds up when you’re excited or exhausted, so can that of your newborn. Look for subtle changes in her breathing pattern, especially if the rhythm changes from slow and soft to a more rapid pace. Her movements may also become more choppy and jerky, especially if she’s on the verge of crying due to feeling overwhelmed and confused.
  • She “Spaces Out” – A newborn’s first line of defense against over-stimulation is often to stare into space when there’s too much going on around her. Rather than trying to process the flood of information, your baby may seem aloof and disinterested in attempts to get her attention. Rather than panicking that your child isn’t bonding with you or is showing signs of developmental disorders, try to understand that a baby who shuts down is probably feeling overstimulated and overwhelmed.
  • She Refuses to Engage – When a newborn refuses any attempts at getting her attention, looks away when you’re trying to interact with her and just doesn’t seem to engage, she’s probably overstimulated. This behavior may be especially prominent in loud spaces, when she’s been in a swing or bouncer, or anytime she is otherwise stimulated more than normal. Remember that some babies will find swings and bouncers soothing, while others just find them overwhelming. If your baby seems to regularly be overstimulated after a session in her swing rather than dropping off peacefully to sleep, it may not be right for her.
  • She Cries Inconsolably – The mysterious crying fit is the bane of many a parent’s existence, especially since it seems to come with no explanation or noticeable solution. A crying infant who can’t be consoled by rocking, gentle speaking or other means of stimulation may actually be overstimulated, so your attempts to distract and comfort her may just be fueling the fire. Try reducing the amount of stimuli she’s subjected to, swaddling and cuddling her close with limited movement.
  • Her Complexion Changes – While every screaming baby gets red in the face from time to time, flushing or complexion changes when your baby seems relatively calm could be a sign that she’s getting too much stimulation and is overly excited. Much like breathing and movement changes, subtle changes like flushing and redness can be a sign that it’s time to calm your newborn by getting her into a more soothing, calm environment.

Because no two babies are exactly alike, there’s no hard and fast rule regarding how much stimulation a newborn can handle. Some babies will seem largely unfazed by external stimuli, are able to sleep almost anywhere and never seem to be bothered by constant chattering around them. Others may have very low thresholds for stimulation, especially those with physical differences or who were born prematurely. Over the course of your baby’s first weeks, you will become adept at reading her behavioral signs, and will be able to tell with reasonable reliability when she’s had too much stimulation.

10 Ways the Duchess of Cambridge’s Labor and Delivery Was Different Than Most

birthWhile high-profile pregnancies and deliveries seem to be a perpetual favorite of entertainment news outlets, few new arrivals have been surrounded by the excitement and anticipation as that of the Royal baby. There are many facets of the labor and delivery process that were different for the Duchess of Cambridge than that of the average woman; these are 10 of the ways that the royal delivery was far different than the ones that most new moms experience.

  • Back-Door Entrance – Some laboring women may find themselves coming in through the wrong entrance due to a frazzled partner and general confusion, but Duchess Kate was brought into the same high-end Paddington Hospital where her husband, Prince William, was born through a back entrance to reduce media scrutiny and maintain a modicum of privacy through such a personal time.
  • All-Natural Labor – While there are plenty of average women who choose to give birth free of chemical pain relief and with minimal interventions, it’s certainly not the norm for most celebrity pregnancies. The Duchess of Windsor labored for 11 hours to birth the future king, and chose to do so naturally, with no pain medications administered throughout the delivery.
  • Multiple Midwives – Most women have a single doctor or midwife, along with a small team of assisting nurses on hand for their big day. Duchess Kate was attended to by a team of four midwives, two medics and the Queen’s former gynecologist for the event.
  • Delivery Fake-Out Stunts – Most new parents aren’t imitated by professional lookalikes days before they actually become new parents, but that was just the case for Prince William and Duchess Kate. The Sun, the largest-selling paper in the United Kingdom, mounted a prank that served to increase the media frenzy surrounding the Royal birth by sending two lookalikes pretending to be Kate and Wills to a local hospital.
  • Gun Salute – Very few deliveries end with a 41 gun salute, but that was part of the birth plan for the Royal couple as they prepared to welcome their bundle of joy to monarchy. The Royal salute took place to mark the exciting occasion, something that everyday babies certainly can’t boast.
  • Helicopter Transportation Plans – Most fathers-to-be are in charge of driving a laboring mom to the hospital and seeing to the parking of the car, but Prince William was scheduled to be on duty in North Wales with the RAF in the days surrounding Duchess Kate’s due date. Just in case he was away from London, a plan for emergency transport to Paddington Hospital by helicopter was in place.
  • Palace Birth Announcement – The culmination of labor is delivery, followed by a birth announcement. The birth of the Royal baby was unlike that of others born around the world that day, due to the fact that it was announced on an easel in Buckingham Palace, the seat of the British Royalty.
  • Social Media Blackout – In today’s society, Facebook and Twitter are often the first place new parents turn to in order to send a mass update of their new status as parents. No official Twitter updates went out when Prince George was born. Instead, his birth was first announced at the Palace itself and via the mainstream media.
  • Champagne Celebrations – One of the services offered in the posh Lindo wing of the Paddington Hospital, which is where Duchess Kate gave birth, is a full wine list in order to help new parents and family members celebrate the birth of their little ones. Few babies are welcomed into the world with a hospital-sponsored and provided tipple!
  • Public Praise of Her Post-Delivery Body – When an everyday woman gives birth, it’s expected she’ll still have a bit of a bump when she leaves the hospital, but it’s not something people talk about, publically anyways. When the first photographs of the Royal couple were released with their new baby, the Internet was full of supportive posts, praising the princess for being real and not hiding her postpartum belly under a frumpy frock.

15 Blogs with Creative Ways to Reuse and Recycle Outgrown Nursery Furniture

cribThe saying that that time flies is especially true when it relates to your children growing up. No matter how much you want them to, kids don’t stay in the baby stage forever, and before you know it you’ll find yourself with a slew of baby items that your toddler has outgrown. Once your child is no longer in the baby stage you’ll have to find something to do with all of these things, from changing tables to cribs to  other various odds and ends. Instead of tossing them, consider reusing and repurposing outgrown nursery items. These 15 blogs will show you how.

Changing Table

Changing tables don’t have to be used solely for that purpose. In fact, you can repurpose them into everything from drink carts for parties to craft stations for the kids. With the help of these five blog entries you’ll be able to repurpose your changing table into something you can continue to use.

Crib

You were likely over the moon excited about the prospect of becoming a parent when you bought your first crib, however, once your child has moved past the crib stage you have to find something to do with this now unnecessary piece of furniture. Many cribs can’t be re-sold due to changes in the models and because of evolving safety standards, so what do you do with it? Take a look at these five blog posts to find out how to transform your child’s crib into something new.

  • Repurposing Old Items to Save Money There are several ideas on this post you can use to transform your crib into a functional piece of furniture.
  • The Other Three Benches Revealed! Take a look at the pictures of how this blogger took a crib and turned it into a one-of-a-kind bench.
  • Repurposed Cot This blogger couldn’t stand the idea of completely changing the crib into something else, so she made it into a desk that can be turned back into a crib if the need arises.
  • Crib to Chalkboard Easel Tutorial Take the headboard and footboard of a crib, paint it, then hinge it together to make a chalkboard easel.
  • $2 Magazine Rack! By using the frame that holds the box spring and mattresses you can make an inexpensive magazine rack.

Odds and Ends            

When you have kids you quickly find that there are all sorts of odds and ends that your kids outgrow over time. Take a look at these five blog articles to learn how to transform just about everything into something new and useful again, from an old high chair to a child’s play set and even some old dresser drawers.

10 Tips for Naturally Increasing Breast Milk Supply

milksupplyMany new mothers fear that their babies are not getting enough milk from them. However, as long as your baby is growing and gaining weight and there are a sufficient amount of wet diapers throughout the day, this is not usually a concern. If you are worried you aren’t producing enough or would like to be able to store breast milk, though, there are ways to increase the amount of milk you produce. Here are ten tips to amplify your milk supply naturally.

  • Nurse Frequently – The best thing you can do is nurse your baby as often and as much as he likes. The more your baby feeds, the more milk your body will produce in order to keep up with him. Most lactation experts agree that it is better to nurse on an as needed basis rather than following a rigorous feeding schedule.
  • Drink Plenty of Fluids – Ensure you are taking in your eight glasses of water per day. While you probably do not need to take in an excess of fluids, you definitely need to drink to your thirst and maintain the adequate amount of water in your body. If you are dehydrated, your body will not produce the right amount of milk for your baby.
  • Eat Enough (Healthy) Calories – Eat at least 1800 calories per day and make sure you are meeting all your own nutritional requirements. Your body needs energy to produce milk, not to mention to do all the other tasks required of a new mom.
  • Feed from Both Breasts – Let your baby empty your breast entirely, then switch her over to the other breast. Having her feed from both sides will increase your supply. The next time you nurse, start with the side you used last.
  • Massage Your Breast as You Nurse – If you see your baby is sucking but not actually drinking milk, use breast compressions. Squeeze and massage your breast gently by grasping it at the top with your thumb and bottom with the other fingers. This will quickly dispense more milk and release the hind milk.
  • Check Your Technique – The most common cause of low milk supply is that your baby is not properly latching on. Getting the latch down can be the most difficult thing to do when starting out with breastfeeding, but once you and your baby have it mastered, it is usually smooth sailing from there on out. For a good latch, the areola must be far enough in your baby’s mouth for him to release the milk. To get it in deep enough, touch the breast to your baby’s lips and then pull it back until your baby’s mouth is wide open. Pull your baby in close and he should now latch on deeply. Some ways to tell if your baby is latched on correctly are that you can see the pink of your baby’s lips, your baby’s ears are wiggling, you hear him swallowing and his cheeks are not being sucked in too deeply as he drinks.
  • Use a Pump – Pumping between feedings is a definite way to increase your milk supply. The most effective way to do this is to keep pumping until about five minutes after the breast has been emptied. This way you are sending a signal to your body that you need more next time. That being said, any extra pumping is still going to help to increase your supply.
  • Don’t Supplement – In the early weeks bottles can cause nipple confusion, which can stop your baby from properly latching on when you breastfeed him again. Also, because the milk comes out so much faster from a bottle and a bottle is easier to suck from, your baby will be less hungry and less likely to work as hard for his milk when you return him to the breast.
  • Don’t Stress – Try not to worry about your milk supply. The more relaxed and comfortable both Mom and baby are, the easier nursing will be. Ultimately, breastfeeding should provide a bonding experience for you and your little one. If you are stressed rather than relaxed, it could inhibit the let-down of your milk and your baby may find it hard to get comfortable and feed.
  • Take a Nursing Vacation – New moms struggling to produce enough milk are sometimes advised to take a “nursing vacation” to increase milk supply and get into the groove of nursing. This entails staying in bed all day with your baby (which many new moms need anyway) and just nursing on demand for two to three days. Not only will you and your baby bond and get into a rhythm, but you will also get the rest you need so that your body can operate most efficiently.

8 Simple Exercises You Can Do While Pushing a Stroller

strollerWhether you’re a new mom trying to shed post-pregnancy weight, a father trying to stay in shape while caring for your little one or a childcare provider trying to boost your physical fitness level while you’re on the clock, it’s not always easy to find time for regimented exercise programs while you’re caring for a small child. what you may not realize, however, is that there are a plethora of ways to exercise while taking the tots along with you for a leisurely stroll. Here are 10 safe and easy workouts you can do while you’re pushing a stroller.

  • Lunges – Stand behind your stroller and put your hands securely on the handle bar with a shoulder-width distance between them. When you lunge forward with one leg, push the stroller outwards, keeping your thigh parallel to the ground. Pull the stroller back while returning to the standing position, then repeat with the opposite leg, completing 15 repetitions on each side.
  • Squats – Squats are a great lower-body workout, and you can easily do them while pushing a stroller. Keep your hands on the handle bar, then push the stroller out while you complete a squat, pushing your buttocks out as far as possible while keeping your body’s weight in your heels. Through the space of your walk, complete three sets of 10 repetitions.
  • Single Arm Chest Press – Stand close to your stroller while it’s resting securely on an incline, keeping one hand on the handle bar and your arm bent. Slowly push the stroller up the hill, pushing with your chest muscles. Repeat 12 times, then switch arms.
  • Power Walk – Between exercises, keep your momentum up and your cardio going by power walking. Keep up a brisk pace without breaking into a run, and maintain it while going up and down hills without changing speed.
  • Stroller Row – Position your stroller on a small hill, facing down the incline. Keep your legs at hip width, with your hands spaced at shoulder width on the handle bar. Let the stroller gently roll forward to extend your arm, then focus on your upper back muscles while pulling it back towards your body. Keep it up for two minutes, then let those muscles rest while you walk.
  • Bicep Boosting Lifts – Before performing this exercise, be sure that you’re physically capable of managing the weight of both the stroller and your child for the sake of safety. On level ground with your hands shoulder width apart on the handle bars and palms facing upwards, lift the back wheels of the stroller an inch off the ground. Slowly and carefully place the stroller back on the ground, using your biceps to manage the weight and moving slowly for both safety and maximum work-out benefit.
  • Shoulder Press – Depending on your physical fitness level and abilities, you can perform the shoulder press on either flat ground or an incline. Keep your spine neutrally aligned while bending forward at the hips, gripping the handle bar of your stroller while keeping your hands shoulder width apart. Begin with your bent arms holding the stroller close to your core, then push it forward until your arms are fully extended. Repeat 15 times.
  • Stroller Crunches – Your arms, lower body and back aren’t the only muscle groups you can work out while using a stroller as an exercise aid. You can also work to strengthen your core with abdominal exercises like the stroller crunch. Lock the brakes on your stroller, then position yourself on the ground with your feet resting on either side of the tires, legs bent and knees gripping the side of the stroller. Bring your torso up so that your ribs come towards your hips and your chin off of your chest. Repeat the crunches for a full minute.

30 Blogs Featuring the Most Creative 1st Birthday Parties

firstbirthdayWhen your baby’s first birthday rolls around, you likely can hardly believe that an entire year has already passed. After all, just yesterday you were just bringing her home from the hospital! To commemorate this milestone in her life, you may want to go all out and throw a big bash for family and friends, even if she won’t remember it and is too young to fully appreciate it. These 30 blog posts are full of ideas sharing the most creative first birthday party ideas for boys, girls and multiples, as well as budget friendly options that will capture your creativity without breaking the bank.

Boys

While there are many themes that can be used for boys and girls alike, some are better suited to the little men in your life. Sailors, mustaches and golf themes are all ways you can celebrate your little man’s first birthday party, and these six blogs cover these ideas and more so you can put together the perfect bash.

Girls

Girls may be pretty in pink, but your birthday party doesn’t have to be dripping in shades of this quintessential girl color. From fairy tales to lemonade themes, the options for your little girl’s first birthday are endless. For plenty of ideas to celebrate the princess in your life, read the next six blog entries.

Unisex

If you’re throwing a first birthday party for both a boy and a girl or want a theme that’s more gender-neutral, there are a plethora of ways you can appeal to both sexes. Whether it’s a Dr. Seuss inspired party or The Very Hungry Caterpillar, these six blog posts will guide you through planning a party that’s fit for both girls and boys.

Multiples

If you were blessed with multiples, then you know that planning a party can be double the fun, but it can also be stressful if you don’t know where to start. The following six blog posts have you covered, and you’ll find everything you need to pick a theme and plan the perfect party to celebrate your multiples.

On a Budget

If you are not into big parties or don’t have the budget for a lavish event, then these six blog articles are for you.  These bloggers threw creative parties with family and friends and didn’t go into debt to do it. You’ll find plenty of tips in the following six blogs for planning and executing an affordable first birthday party.